President Donald Trump issued a ringing endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt on Tuesday, just seven hours before the close of the state’s primary election and a move which could have reverberations throughout the next months of campaigning.
Trump, fresh off a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he is “strongly” endorsing Laxalt, the state’s attorney general and Republican frontrunner for the gubernatorial seat being vacated by incumbent Gov. Brian Sandoval. Laxalt is expected to easily win his primary election against candidates including Treasurer Dan Schwartz.
“Adam is smart, works hard, and knows how to win. He will be a great Governor. Also, will fight hard to lower your taxes and is tough on crime!” the president wrote.
I strongly endorse Adam Laxalt for Governor of Nevada. Adam is smart, works hard, and knows how to win. He will be a great Governor. Also, will fight hard to lower your taxes and is tough on crime!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
Laxalt’s campaign didn’t immediately respond for a request for comment on the timing of the tweet or Trump’s statement about taxes, although Laxalt tweeted back that he was “honored” to have the president’s support.
“Thank you, Mr. President! We’re ready to fight for our state to keep it from becoming California,” he wrote.
Laxalt has said he wants to keep taxes low and hopes to repeal the Commerce Tax, although a measure to do so would be difficult to get on the ballot and it would be virtually impossible for the idea to take flight with what’s expected to be a Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2019.
Laxalt doesn’t mention Trump as frequently on the trail as some other Nevada Republican candidates, focusing instead on how he doesn’t want Nevada to be like California and how he opposes sanctuary cities. But he did write an op-ed strongly condemning Hillary Clinton during the 2016 race, and he introduced Trump at a rally.
Although other Republicans on the 2016 ballot including former Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy tried to distance themselves from Trump following the publication of Access Hollywood tapes showing the future president make lewd comments about women, Laxalt stood by the nominee. He and Trump’s Nevada campaign chair, Rep. Mark Amodei, issued a joint statement after the publication of the tapes calling Trump “not perfect” but saying they would support the party’s nominee.
Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, was initially scheduled to speak at Laxalt’s annual “Basque Fry” campaign event last year, but backed out after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas.
Laxalt’s biggest challenge is expected to come after Tuesday, when he’ll face the winner of a bitter Democratic gubernatorial primary between Chris Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak. He’s said on the trail that $50 million has been pledged against him, which would make the contest far more expensive than any other governor’s race in Nevada history.
It’s not the first time Trump has stepped into Nevada politics this cycle. His tweet suggesting Danny Tarkanian would be better in Congress prompted the frequent candidate to abandon a contentious primary with Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller and try for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District — a race where he’s the favorite.